The definition of “college student” is changing. No longer are colleges filled solely with young, high school graduates pursuing their first degree. Today, colleges also have a diversity of older students who are transferring in, going back to school for a second time, or pursuing college after being in the workforce or raising a family. Today, the average age of college students is 26 years old. At this age, many students are also working full- or part-time.
It is estimated that 40 percent of undergraduate students work full-time, while over 80 percent of students work a part-time job. Roughly 22 percent of undergraduate students are also parents and have children to care for at home. And these statistics do not include those in graduate or postgraduate programs. The average age of adults in graduate school is 33 years old. By this age, many students are considering starting families, already have children (42 percent of female grad students), and all the while are working full-time to help pay for their education and living costs.
This data all points to one single fact: There needs to be balance for the modern college student.
If you are going to school and also maintaining a job, the best thing you can do is learn how to balance college and work effectively. There are steps you can take, as a college student and a working professional, to ensure your schedule is always something that you can handle. Never, at any point, should you feel so overwhelmed that it gets in the way of your success.
Consider the below tips to better balance college, work, and life’s priorities.
8 Tips to Balance Both College and a Career
Unfortunately, working while going to school is a reality for the majority of college students. However, there are ways that you can make it work, and make it work well. First, consider changing your perspective of the job experience. Working a job while in school poses many benefits, such as:
- It enables you to build professional connections and relationships while still in school, and
- It highlights your time management and organizational skills, which future employers will love.
So, the question remains, how can you make it happen? How can you balance both college and work, while still leaving time for yourself and your family? Consider these tips.
1. Always communicate.
When it comes to balancing college and work, communication is a key piece of the puzzle. You must maintain open communication with your employers at work, as well as your professors and faculty. By establishing these lines of communication, you can create a mutual understanding of expectations and be able to level with one another in times of need. If you are ever feeling overwhelmed with your workload, you can be open and honest with these people and figure out an alternative action plan.
On top of this, consider the communication you have with your family and your peers. If you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, you can be open with your loved ones about it and may, in turn, find support. Sometimes, a support network can be the greatest asset of all when you have a lot on your plate.
2. Do not be afraid to ask for help.
In line with communication, it is important to always be open to help and to never be afraid to ask for it. As much as you want to do it all, and you want to be independent in your professional journey, recognize that it is okay to occasionally call on a third-party for help. For example, you can call on any of your college’s support services, which may involve talking to a tutor, an academic advisor, or a career counselor when you are feeling overwhelmed.
3. Create a daily schedule to help manage your time.
College students who work full- or part-time can benefit from a daily planner or tracker to keep up with all of their tasks. This can help hone your time management skills and help you maintain a balance between college assignments and work hours. You can block time off for your shifts, as well as dedicate parts of your day to studying or school projects. While this takes self-discipline and constant managing, creating a daily schedule will prove to be one of the most valuable tools in staying on track.
4. Create a dedicated workspace.
In tandem with creating a daily schedule, it is also recommended that you create a dedicated workspace where you can focus on your studies. Research shows that having a dedicated space in your home can sharpen the mind, improve concentration, increase your efficiency, and impact your ability to complete work. As you consider your “space,” be sure to find (and maintain!) a place that is clean, organized, comfortable, well-lit, and distraction-free. Consider incorporating elements to help you stay organized, too, such as a calendar or bulletin board, as well as little things that inspire you.
5. Choose a job with flexibility.
This may go without saying, but you have control over the type of work you do. While in college, consider choosing a job that offers you scheduling flexibility. you think about what work you’d like to do, think about your class schedule, your best times of the day for studying, and what type of job will accommodate those needs. Consider choosing a job that is close to campus, so you can minimize travel time. Or, consider a job that offers remote work options, so you can bring your work on the go. If you cannot find these options, be sure to talk to your boss about potential, flexible scheduling. You may be surprised to find that many jobs, can accommodate three-day work weeks, work-from-home options, and more.
6. Choose a school with flexibility.
In addition to your job, remember to choose a school that also offers flexibility. Do not be afraid to be selective when it comes to your college education. Most importantly, ask yourself if the college supports your career aspirations. And, if so, ask yourself if the college can support you in the process of reaching your goals. Does the school offer flexible scheduling options, like weekend and evening courses? Does the program you’re considering offer online courses, allowing you to study from anywhere? Does the college offer multiple start dates per year, allowing you to start and complete your education on your own terms? Learn more about flexible college options here.
When selecting schools, consider affordability as well. More than likely, the reason you are working is to pay for your school or living expenses. So, by choosing a college that offers financial aid or affordable tuition, you can keep more money in your pockets. Goodwin University offers one of the lowest tuitions in the state of Connecticut for non-profit, private universities. The vast majority of students also receive financial assistance in the form of grants or scholarships. Learn more here.
7. Keep sight on your professional goals.
It is also important to keep your eyes ahead on your professional goals. This is your driving force to earn an education, and can keep you motivated throughout your time in school. Further, it can help you decide on a working environment while you are in school. For example, if you are interested in a career in nursing, you may consider working at a local medical office as an administrative assistant. Doing so can equip you with real-world experience and help you prepare for your long-term goals.
8. Prioritize self-care.
Finally, never forget to prioritize yourself. Ultimately, at the end of the day, your happiness and your fulfillment are most important. Do not let yourself get too stressed or overwhelmed. You can do this by carving out time to focus on your mental health and what makes you happy most. Is that spending time with family? Is that watching your favorite TV show? Is it simply cozying up with some coffee and reading a book? Whatever it is that helps you keep calm and smile, is what you should keep in your day-to-day life. This is key to establishing a school, work, and life balance – and helping you stay positive.
Balancing College and Work (and Life!) is Possible for You
While it can be intimidating to think about working while going to school, it is entirely possible. By staying positive and keeping sight of what’s ahead, communicating openly with others, and creating a schedule and space for you to thrive, you can find success in all that you do.
If you are interested in pursuing one of the many flexible, career-oriented programs at Goodwin University, please do not hesitate to reach out for information. Goodwin is recognized is for its convenient scheduling options and career-focused degree programs. Our goal is to help you into a career you love, and design a class schedule that works for you – not a schedule you have to work around.